Food & Drink

Open & Shut: BSC Cocktail Gallery; Krishna Aunty; Henninger’s Tavern

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.


BSC Cocktail Gallery: For years, Baltimore Spirits Company co-founders Max Lents, Ian Newton, and Eli Breitburg-Smith advocated to pass legislation allowing distilleries such as theirs to serve cocktails, rather than just small pours. Now, the team can finally enjoy the benefits of their hard work as they officially debut BSC’s own cocktail bar adjacent to its production facility at Union Collective in Hampden. Though the art-themed bar and gallery has been open for tastings for a few weeks now, the full cocktail menu, crafted by bar manager Hannah Baker, will be available to the public beginning Friday, July 30 at 5 p.m. 

“Art and cocktails pair well,” Lents says of the concept, which spotlights a themed menu divided into art movements (think “surreal” and “modern”) and a large gallery wall with rotating works by local talents. Guests are invited to sip Baker’s drinks—which fuse BSC’s signature spirits such as the award-winning Shot Tower gin and Epoch rye whiskey—beneath artist Greg St. Pierre’s glowing light installation on the ceiling. The moody interior also features custom wallpaper by local artist Allison Crowley and tables that the owners handcrafted using reclaimed wood from old fermenters. 

NiHao Launches Baijiu Tasting Program: On the heels of its one-year anniversary, Canton’s NiHao is further connecting the dining scene to Chinese cuisine and culture with the launch of a new baijiu tasting program. If you’re unfamiliar with the spirit, it’s likely because it’s a rare find in the U.S. And, be forewarned, it’s best to drink it responsibly, as baijiu—a complex grain spirit made from fermented sorghum—ranges from 28-65 percent ABV. To that end, bar manager Ashley McMichael suggests consuming NiHao’s quarter-ounce samples with food. She is now pouring $6 single sips, or $20 flights, in four categories—including “Nong Xiang” (fiery with a fruity sweetness) and “Jiang Xiang,” which highlights savory and herbal notes. If you’d like to try it out before sipping the baijiu neat, McMichael also features the spirit in many of her cocktails


Groundwork Kitchen: Longtime Baltimoreans are probably familiar with Paul’s Place, the 39-year-old nonprofit whose programs aid low-income individuals and families in Southwest Baltimore. But what you might not know is that the organization recently unveiled its own restaurant that will double as a headquarters for its free culinary arts training program. (Available to interested students of all ages, the 12-week course allows trainees to learn kitchen and back-of-house skills, as well as obtain ServSafe certifications.) Located on Washington Boulevard in Pigtown, Groundwork Kitchen is now accepting carryout and delivery orders, with plans for in-person dining and catering in the works. For now, diners can enjoy breakfast and lunch offerings such as avocado toast, muhammara vegetable flatbread, caprese salad, and a range of assorted pastries. As Paul’s Place executive director William McLennan sums up: “I know this is just the start of something amazing for this organization and the community it serves.”

JBGB’s: A few weeks back, we gave you an inside look at the new John Brown General & Butchery in Remington. It’s been operating solely as a butcher shop (with a limited lunch menu) since opening in late-June, and now, JBGB’s has officially launched its full-service restaurant operations. Spotlighting its locally sourced ingredients and butchered meats, the neighborhood concept offers wood-fired pizzas (think toppings ranging from pepperoni with mozzarella to cherry peppers with onions), an array of small plates, hearty pasta and sausage dishes, and John Brown’s fan-favorite double cheeseburger with all the fixins. 

Krishna Aunty: Time to switch up your weekend takeout routine. This new Indian concept recently landed at B-More Kitchen in Govans, a culinary incubator that offers production space to local startups. Available for takeout and delivery via third-party apps Friday through Monday, Krishna Aunty offers traditional Indian recipes—including channa masala, Andhra chicken, and Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower curry)—tucked into wraps or piled on top of rice bowls. Orders can be placed online, here


Eat. Drink. Relax: The team behind The Civil has expanded their Mt. Vernon footprint by taking over the former City Cafe on the corner of Eager and Cathedral streets. Slated to debut next month, the space—which housed its previous inhabitant for more than 25 years—has gotten a laid-back makeover to reflect its new name, now boasting neon signage and colorful furniture. Owner Edwin Thomas recently told the Baltimore Business Journal that the menu will be at a bit of a higher price point than The Civil, highlighting craft cocktails, oysters, lobster tails, and “eye-catching desserts.” But, notably—in an effort to reduce competition with its sister-spot a few blocks away—EDR won’t serve brunch. 


7/31: Mera Kitchen Collective Pop-Up at Café Los Sueños
The team at the community-minded Mera Kitchen Collective is searching for a new home in Station North (Friday, July 30 will be the last day to order takeout from their current shared kitchen with Alma Cocina Latina), but you will still be able to find them at pop-ups around town in the meantime. They will continue their presence at the Baltimore Farmers Market on Sunday mornings throughout the fall, and this Saturday you can catch the crew at Café Los Sueños in Remington. A special breakfast and brunch menu includes seven-spice sticky buns drizzled with pecan caramel, za’atar and lebneh grilled flatbread, and assorted mezze bites. 

8/6-8/29: Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week
Summer restaurant weeks are in full swing in the area (the city’s annual promotion continues through this weekend), and Maryland Vegan Eats’ semi-annual dining event is up next. Spearheaded by founders Samantha Claassen of Golden West Cafe and Naijha Wright-Brown of The Land of Kush, the month-long culinary celebration is meant to be an opportunity for vegans and plant-curious eaters alike. Rather than crafting prix-fixe menus, local eateries will run affordable, creative specials using vegan ingredients throughout the month. 

“We started it because we wanted a way to highlight all of the veg-friendly restaurants in our area,” the founders said in a statement, “and it’s since grown to incorporate omni restaurants, who are now seeing that there’s a huge demand for plant-based dishes on their menu. The more we can influence restaurants to have a good variety of vegan dishes, beyond just a salad, the better.” Dining destinations already on board this year include Friends and Family, Liora, Double Zero, Char’d City, Red Emma’s, and Wicked Sisters. Learn more about their specials, here


Bar Vasquez: Shortly after Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group unveiled its latest concept at the historic Milton Inn in Sparks, owners Tony Foreman and chef Cindy Wolf broke the news that they would be closing their Argentinian steakhouse in Harbor East. The last day of service at the restaurant, which previously operated as Foreman Wolf’s Pazo, was Saturday, July 24. “We have been proud of the work we have done [at 1425 Aliceanna Street,] especially the growth of so many members of the team past and present,” Foreman said in a statement announcing the closure. “The time has come to consolidate our team so that we can fulfill the service standards you expect from us. We cannot thank you enough.” The message goes on to say that all Bar Vasquez staff has been relocated to the restaurant group’s other properties. There’s no official word yet on what will become of the space. 

Henninger’s Tavern: After more than three decades, husband-and-wife owners Kenny and Jayne Vieth poured their final drinks at this beloved Fells Point tavern last week. The couple is retiring, and recently sold the bar to new owners. “This is very bittersweet,” Jayne posted to Facebook. “Thank you all for the friendships we have made here.” Throughout the years, the Bank Street bar was best known for its hearty meat and seafood dishes, red walls lined with framed photos and retro memorabilia, and charming neighborhood feel. “The new owners are experienced and young. I hope everyone supports them. We will,” Jayne continued on Facebook. “Maybe I can see you guys on the other side of the bar!” Stay tuned for updates on the tavern’s reopening.  

Spro: Owner Jay Caragay took to social media last week to announce that this 11-year-old craft coffee purveyor would be closing its shop on The Avenue in Hampden. “We’ve decided to move on to other things around the coffee world,” Caragay said in a video announcement. Though the news has saddened locals who have made Spro a part of their daily routine, Caragay assures that the online shop will remain operational. And Cafe du Spro, a spinoff in Cockeysville that pays homage to Japanese coffee culture, is preparing to reopen later this year.